Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

QuantumFlush
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:13 am

Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby QuantumFlush » Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:37 am

Hi all,

I'm a working software engineer in a large IT firm in India for the past 3.5 years, and as you've probably guessed by now, this is your standard wannabe-physics-boffin-but-not-a-physics-grad situation. I've a B.E in Information Science from an okayish University in South India with decent scores(72% aggregate, First Class with Distinction) and am considering switching disciplines to Physics. I haven't done any preparation in this regard yet except for a general GRE on which I scored Q-88% , V-99%, W-48%. I know my quant and writing scores suck, but I took the test w/o any prep whatsoever and I'll likely retake when I apply for a grad program.

But before that I was considering either
a) getting a B.Sc in Physics from Delhi University and get some research experience over the course or
b) studying and taking the PGRE on my own and applying to an MS program and getting research experience
before applying to a PhD program.

Can anyone give me their opinion on which would be a better course of action , given they both'd take the same amount of time for me: 3 yrs for the B.Sc or 1 yr for the PGRE + 2 yr MS? How good would a B.Sc from Delhi University be on my CV? Any college or profs at DU I should try to work with? Anyone graduate from DU or anyone who knows some one who did know if its a good bet to get into a really good program in the US?

Thanks

P-representation
Posts: 61
Joined: Fri Dec 23, 2011 12:56 am

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby P-representation » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:28 pm

Since you already have a bachelor's degree why don't you try for the two-year Masters Program offered by IITs, IISc etc.
You just have to clear an entrance exam to get admitted and the standard of the entrance exam is not something way beyond the PGRE level. Having an MS/MSc from these institutions would be far better than just a Bachelor's degree from some random college in DU. Hope this helped!

QuantumFlush
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:13 am

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby QuantumFlush » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:01 am

Hello P-representation,

Thanks for answering. I've already considered that option and the problem is that IITs offer M.Sc only if you've studied physics at the undergrad level for four semesters or more and the IISc/TIFR etc offer no terminal M.Sc. So my best bet is the next best university, which I understand is DU. Is that right? Or do you know of any programs that I could enrol in without any pre-requisite undergrad physics requirements?

Thanks

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby bfollinprm » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:06 pm

You can get into a US masters program like the California State schools without studying for the PGRE, though you'll have to pay the $15k/year tuition.

QuantumFlush
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:13 am

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby QuantumFlush » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:18 am

Thanks bfollinprm. So you're saying that an MS from a US university is better for me than a bachelor's from an Indian university, far as grad school admissions are concerned?
Also anyone know about physics masters programs in Canada(UToronto, QueensU etc)? Entry requirements, reputation etc?

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:33 am

Yes, as far as I know.

TakeruK
Posts: 815
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby TakeruK » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:15 pm

QuantumFlush wrote:Thanks bfollinprm. So you're saying that an MS from a US university is better for me than a bachelor's from an Indian university, far as grad school admissions are concerned?
Also anyone know about physics masters programs in Canada(UToronto, QueensU etc)? Entry requirements, reputation etc?


Canadian physics masters programs generally require the equivalent of a 4-year honours BSc degree. An honours BSc degree in Canada usually requires a thesis project in your final year, and some other requirements (some schools require you take 1 grad level course, some schools have a minimum courseload/average etc.). The BSc degree does not have to be in Physics, but I think it is preferred.

The minimum grades to get in a Canadian grad school is usually a 80% average in the 3rd and 4th year of undergrad. This is the minimum required by the Graduate School, usually the actual admittance average is a bit higher. But, individual departments will look at applications on a whole, so as long as you meet the minimums, deficiencies in one area can be made up in another.

One great thing about Canadian MSc degrees is that students are usually fully funded. You should note that MSc and PhD programs are completely independent in Canada, once you finish your MSc, even if you want to stay at the same school for your PhD, you have to submit a new application. However, some MSc programs allow you to "upgrade" to a PhD program after one year, provided you meet some requirements.

As for reputation: the top 3 schools are UBC, Toronto, and McGill. Waterloo is well known for its engineering programs. If you want to know more about specific schools, send me a PM!

Finally, you may want to contact specific supervisors before applying to the school. Definitely for PhD programs, some schools will only accept you if a prof is willing to guarantee funding for you. For MSc programs, with the exception of course-based masters, the course requirements are much lower than US schools (between 4-7 3-month courses over the 2 years) because you will be doing thesis research for the 2 years as well. So, for both MSc and PhD programs, if you don't have a supervisor picked before applying, generally you will pick one when you visit the school or within the first semester. Generally, the bigger the school, the more time you have to pick your supervisor.

QuantumFlush
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:13 am

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby QuantumFlush » Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:37 am

Thanks TakeruK! Sorry its been a busy couple of weeks so haven't had the time to check back.
This is very useful to get me started on doing some more research about M.Sc programs in Canada.
If I need anything more specific later on, I'll whistle :)

blighter
Posts: 256
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 6:30 pm

Re: Switch to Physics from CS advice:Physics UG vs Physics MS?

Postby blighter » Fri Jan 27, 2012 8:03 pm

QuantumFlush,

Since you already have a bachelor's degree, you can prepare for PGRE for a year and apply directly for a PhD in the US. You don't need a master's to do that. Try your luck. There is a chance they might consider you without research experience, if you apply at the right places. Even if they don't, some universities would offer you unfunded one-year master's programme. IMHO doing a BSc isn't a wise choice.




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